WikkiData: 12 Years After, 10 Northern States Yet to Domesticate FOI Act

Not less than 10 states in northern Nigeria are yet to domesticate the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, a law that aims to promote transparency and accountability in governance.

Over a decade after it was passed into law, 10 states in the north and six in the south still willfully violate federal laws that aim to hold government officials accountable.

The Freedom of Information Act was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan, 12 years ago.

The FOIA was passed by the National Assembly on May 24, 2011, and Jonathan assented to the law four days later.

The act supersedes the Official Secrets Act (OSA), initially enacted in 1911, which forbade the unauthorised transmission or obtaining of any classified matter.

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It gives a person or association the right to access information from government agencies, the federal civil service, private and public sector organisations providing public services.

Northern states yet to domesticate the act include Plateau, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Kano, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba and Yobe.

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Their counterparts in the south are Imo, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Osun and Ogun States, making a total of 16 states across the federation that have not domesticated the act.

Submitting FOIA to these states always generates a pattern of excuses such as the absence of organised records, additional clearance mechanisms unrecognised by law and blatant denial of access to information except through governors’ approval.

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In 2022, the Connected Development (CODE) called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to push for the domestication of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in all 36 states across the federation.

Similarly, the National Association of Seadogs (NAS), Jolly Rogers Deck, had in May 2023 called on state governments to domesticate the act in the interest of transparency and accountability in public governance.

The association said the call became reasonable bearing in mind its observation that 16 states had yet to domesticate the FOI Act.


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